We all have the power to create change, and there is more we can accomplish together than on our own. Together, we can push for organizational change that will echo through all levels of the systems that were created on a foundation of inequality. WEST is hosting Organizational Change to Achieve Equity with YW Boston on 2/18 to demonstrate to the WEST community how we can use our positions to create organizational change. Sheera Bornstein, Director of Partnerships at YW Boston, will be facilitating this workshop. She works to improve workplace inclusivity, and is passionate about social justice and antiracism work.Sheera became passionate about combating discrimination from a young age when she had conversations with her family about antisemitism. As she got older, Sheera became more aware the various dimensions in which inequities manifest, including racism and sexism, and how the complex the issues are. Studying the subjects and working in social justice and antiracism made her more passionate about fixing the issues.
In her career, Sheera had found it valuable to balance hard and soft skills. Starting in college, she blended independent focus on peace and conflict studies with a degree in economics. The peace and conflict studies provided a vehicle to pursue passions and develop facilitation expertise while the economics degree offered some technical expertise in a field with fewer women and provided more future job security. This has given Sheera the skillset and credibility to do the work she wants to do.
Working at YW Boston has given Sheera the opportunity to fight for liberation. Liberation is one of YW Boston’s values and Sheera is inspired by the Lilla Watson quote, “If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” Sheera grew up listening to stories from her grandmother who is a Holocaust survivor. Her personal experiences and family history drove her passion to combat discrimination. Growing up in the Boston suburbs, Sheera was aware that racism existed in the city, but had blinders on to its various manifestations and her complicity in the system. When she explicitly studied racism, then participated in YW Boston’s programs, she saw the issues through a different lens. Sheera realized how pervasive racism is, including amongst well-intentioned liberals. She saw the need to do her own internal work, and contribute to broader organizational change.
To create more equitable and inclusive organizations, people need knowledge, understanding, of the following areas:
- Identities and how inequities around these identities manifest in the workplace on interpersonal, institutional, ideological, and internalized levels
- Dimensions of organizational change (e.g., micro, meso, macro) and frameworks for advancing change
- Stages of typical organizational journeys towards equity
In the age of smartphones and advanced technology, we are accustomed to instant gratification. This attitude is not effective when attempting to create equity. Some people think about racism being in the past or living in another place, when we need to recognize how it lives within ourselves. We want quick fixes, but this is a system that has been built over hundreds of years, so the issue of racism will take time to overcome. We must have urgency in action and determination to stick with the work when change is slower than we’d like.
The most significant message from this workshop will be that none of us can make significant change on our own, and we must change our spheres of influence and organizations to make lasting impact. Changes need to happen on multiple levels to resolve the structure that is inequitable.
Join us on 2/18 for Organizational Change to Achieve Equity. Register for our other upcoming events! Career Possibilities: Discovery and Research on 2/10, Surviving and Thriving through Career Transitions on 2/22, and Career Possibilities: Clinical, Regulatory, and Development on 3/3.